Those choices really depend on what the newcomer really wants to experience. For sheer spectacle, you could go with Verdi’s Aida
. For the sheer glory of the human voice in all its virtuosity, an opera like Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
(which we’re presenting at Lyric during the 2016-17 season) would fill the bill — and it also happens to be a powerful love story, a sort of “Scottish Romeo and Juliet
.” If you want a full-throttle theatrical experience that would equal anything you’d see in the legitimate theater, there are a lot of choices — I’d put Britten’s Peter Grimes
right up there, but also Bizet’s Carmen
and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess
. The latter two have the advantage of a lot of melodies that may already be familiar, even if you haven’t been to an opera before.